UK gambling and advertising regulators have been forced to repeat warnings to gambling operators regarding their obligations not to promote their business to children.
On Friday, the UK Gambling Commission issued a “rules reminder” for its licensees, with the top two items being “gambling adverts on football club websites” and “gambling logos on under-18s football shirts.”
This reminder followed hot on the heels of a BBC report that found gambling company logos on the websites of 15 football clubs from the Premier League, Championship, League One and the Scottish Premiership. These betting logos appeared on pages aimed at the clubs’ junior supporters and contained links that led directly to the betting sites.
Many of the sites removed the linked logos after being contacted by the BBC, but Shabnum Mustapha, media and public affairs manager at the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), told the Beeb that the ASA’s compliance team would be writing to the leagues “to set out clearly our concerns in this area.”
The ASA was among the regulatory agencies cited in the UKGC’s reminder, as was the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which warned operators last October to purge all children-friendly marketing from their advertising material.
The operators’ use of gambling links on their clubs’ junior pages is all the more WTF given that it was only this January when several operators were publicly rebuked in local media for this same type of screwup. That led the Football Association to file charges against TGP Europe’s Fun88 brand.
It’s not like the clubs didn’t understand the potential consequences. The UKGC reiterated its commitment to protecting children from gambling marketing exposure just this summer, while the UK Labour Party has vowed to ban all football gambling sponsorship should it ever return to power.
The UKGC’s Friday warning closed with a reminder that new rules set to take effect on October 31 include “tougher action” for gambling operators that break advertising rules or breach consumer law. In June, the UKGC’s new CEO Neil McArthur warned of a “relentless escalation” in financial penalties for operators who can’t demonstrate a capacity to learn from their mistakes.